Nik's Commodore Keys – South Carolina

Over half the season is gone, and the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-5, 0-4 SEC) look to be deep in trouble. If they are to emerge and have a chance to salvage their season, a win in Columbia over the Gamecocks of South Carolina (5-2, 2-2 SEC) is vital. But, in order for the Commodores to come home winners, several adjustments will have to be made.

Pressure the Quarterback

It looks like Steve Spurrier has finally found his quarterback at South Carolina in Stephen Garcia.  Garcia has not turned the ball over much, throwing only four interceptions on the season.  The Vanderbilt secondary must force turnovers in order to win this game.  The pass rush should see significant improvement with the return of defensive end Stephen Stone.   

Third Down Defense

South Carolina's third down offense has been very good, converting on 41% of their first downs.  While Vanderbilt's third down defense has been solid, they have a tendency of giving up on third and long plays, which result in a huge swing of momentum, and ultimately in the other team scoring.  Vanderbilt must limit South Carolina's third down conversions, and can not afford to give up any long third down conversions 

Offensive Line

Truth be told, this Vanderbilt offense looks terrible right now.  Every aspect of the offense needs to improve in order for Vanderbilt to win this game, but it all starts with the offensive line.  As coach Bobby Johnson admitted this past week, the pass blocking against Georgia was awful.  Of course, it doesn't help if Larry Smith simply sits in the pocket and does not try to get outside the pocket.  And, Smith can't throw the ball if his receivers are not getting open.  Right now, the passing game simply isn't working.  No aspect of it is playing well.  Look for the Commodore coaches to try to roll Smith out of the pocket in order to get him out of the pocket and into the open field, where he has the best chance of making a big play.  If Vanderbilt's offense does not improve, this will be a long game.  Warren Norman has been spectacular this season, and he tends to get good help from his partner in crime Zac StacyJared Hawkins, after suffering several injuries, has had a disappointing season thus far.  If he is able to go on Saturday, look for him to have a breakout game against the Gamecocks. 


South Carolina leads the all time series 14-4.  Head Coach Bobby Johnson is 2-6 against the Gamecocks and head coach Steve Spurrier.  Spurrier is 2-2 against head coach Bobby Johnson, and is 15-2 all time against the Commodores.

First Meeting: South Carolina 23 Vanderbilt 7 (1961)

Last Meeting: Vanderbilt 24 South Carolina 17 (2008 in Nashville)

Last Meeting in Columbia: Vanderbilt 17 South Carolina 6 (2007) Top Stories